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The Ensign Party at the National ANZAC Mass in Canberra. (Catholic Voice)

Amid the evils and horrors of war, goodness and humanity shine through, Fr Paul Stuart RAN told the faithful at the National ANZAC Day Mass in Canberra yesterday. Source: Catholic Voice.

Held at St Christopher’s Cathedral in Manuka, parishioners filled the pews for the solemn mass, joining visitors including the New Zealand High Commissioner to Australia, Andrew Needs, Vice Admiral David Johnston and Apostolic Nuncio Archbishop Charles Balvo.

In opening the Mass, Apostolic Administrator of the Military Ordinariate of Australia and Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Canberra and Goulburn Christopher Prowse said ANZAC Day was a time to remember all those who have died in the service and the freedom of this country.

 “Grant, we pray, eternal rest to those who gave themselves in service and sacrifice for their country,” he said.

In the homily, Fr Stuart remembered the heroism that could be found amid the danger and terror of war.

“This is illustrated for me by one of my father’s many experiences as a young sailor in World War II serving in the Royal Navy in the Atlantic,” he said.

“One evening, his ship was attacked by a German Heinkel that dropped a torpedo on the deck of his ship. He and another ordinary seaman were tasked with a screwdriver and very unclear instructions on how to diffuse the torpedo.”

When Fr Stuart’s father unscrewed the torpedo’s plate he found, to his amazement, a pile of sawdust, debris and a scrunched-up note.

The note read, “A gift from Czechoslovakia.”

“Some brave Czech in an armament factory that produced weapons for Germany had sabotaged that particular torpedo and saved the lives of many,” Fr Stuart said. “He risked his life in order to save the lives of others.”

He said that in World War I, when the Australian population was just 4.9 million, 420,000 men and 3000 women volunteered to answer the call to arms.

“Of these, 60,000 were killed and 150,000 physically wounded,” he continued. “Sixty-three Victoria Crosses were awarded, and probably more were earned. Some rural towns in Australia lost almost their entire adult male population. New Zealand suffered a similar fate, losing 18,000 of its young.”

Fr Stuart said women, among them wives, mothers, sweethearts and children, managed homes, businesses and farms and hardship. They continued to do so after the war, when their sons and husbands, dads and sweethearts did not return.

“Invoking the images from the Book of Wisdom and St John’s Gospel, yes, our war dead and our veterans were tested in the furnace of war and yes, the fruits of liberty and peace sprang from their sacrifice not dissimilar to what the death of Christ achieved for humankind,” he said.

“We gather here not to pray in glory or victory, though they were won, but to turn to God and to pray for peace, and for the gift of the virtue of striving for harmony among peoples of different races, politics and religion. “We pray to the Lord a prayer of gratitude for those who, when peace did fail, answered the call to defend our country, our friends, our families, our mates, our values and our children’s futures.”


‘A gift from Czechoslovakia’ – A life risked in order to save others remembered at ANZAC Day Mass (By Veronika Cox, Catholic Voice)


Anzac Day a reminder to serve and sacrifice for peace, says Archbishop Fisher (The Catholic Weekly)